The Senate plans to vote Jan. 28 to complete congressional action on a $60.2 billion aid package for Hurricane Sandy victims three months after the storm hit the northeastern U.S., Majority Leader Harry Reid said.
Reid said today the legislation, passed Jan. 15 by the Republican-controlled House, will be voted on along with one amendment. The amendment would require a 60-vote supermajority to pass, increasing the likelihood the Senate will send the House measure to President Barack Obama unchanged.
“We need to pass this relief package,” Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey said on the Senate floor yesterday. “No American should have to languish for months after a disaster to get help.”
The storm struck the Northeast Oct. 29 with hurricane-force winds and flooding that killed more than 125 people in 10 states. It ravaged shore communities from New Jersey’s Atlantic City to Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Delays in enacting the aid plan angered lawmakers from those states and New York. Northeast Republicans, led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, denounced House Speaker John Boehner’s Jan. 1 decision not to seek a vote that day on the aid. That forced the new Congress that took office Jan. 3 to start anew on the legislation.
Boehner relented after meeting with angry Republican lawmakers from New Jersey and New York. The House voted Jan. 4 to pass a $9.7 billion increase in the national flood-insurance fund’s borrowing authority. A Senate vote later that day allowed the fund to continue paying 120,000 flood-insurance claims from the region.
The House passed the rest of the plan Jan. 15 on a 241-180 vote. It includes $17 billion to meet the immediate needs of Sandy victims and $33.5 billion for long-term reconstruction.
Boehner delayed earlier action on the measure because a number of Republicans opposed providing emergency aid without offsetting it with other budget savings. When the aid package passed the House, 179 Republicans voted against it while 49 Republicans joined 192 Democrats to pass the measure.
The bill is H.R. 152.
© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.